WINDING DOWN

Last week we met with the students for the last time before we have our culminating walk through the University of Michigan campus and a closing dinner with community members and funders. It was sentimental but it was also this huge relief that we had so many students come back. When we saw down to talk to them about what summer would hold (including our happening on July 3rd at Ann Arbor Summer Fest!) we felt the commitment and pride coming from each student, voiced in different ways.

Time after time, students talked about how they had overcome a fear of talking to strangers, but even more so, the lack of fear they felt from being in Y-Fi. That seeing a friend from Y-Fi no longer meant they acted like they didn’t know one another. That now, even though they were from different peer groups, they could hug in the hallway.

That made this all worth it. We can’t wait to share the next series of photos with you. In the meanwhile, if you didn’t see the Concentrate article by Sarah Rigg, check it out. And look for our next story in Ann Arbor Family Press coming out shortly.

BREAKING BARRIERS

Last week we produced our third happening, Red Rover, Red Rover. We had lofty plans of playing a more subdued version of the classic playground game. Instead of running, we walked. Instead of breaking through a chain of arms, students asked questions. We served Go! ice Cream. It had all the makings of a memorable day. It was indeed memorable, because it was a bit chilly and blustery and too cold for ice cream, the kids said. The sunny skies we had experienced the days leading up to the event were nowhere to be seen.

YFi go ice cream Ypsi Michigan artists.JPG


But the students made the experience their own. An intrepid family of four showed up to play with us and our students were plenty excited to include them as part of the strategizing of who to call over. Riddles were asked and adults were duped.

And, Concentrate Media showed up to cover the event. We are really grateful that they see the value in sharing our efforts with the world.

The next couple events are big stakes. The first is in early June on a Saturday. The students will take their first trip as Y-Fi to downtown Ann Arbor to do a walking tour of landmarks where we’ll create signage and documentation moments, all in line with the sentiments of fear and boundary-breaking we’ve been talking about.

Then after that I’m really excited to share that Y-Fi was invited to perform in the center tent of Ann Arbor Summer Festival on July 3rd! There will be lots more details to share but for now, we have a lot of production preparation ahead of us. Fingers crossed!

Y-Fi student artists strategize with members of the community on who to call over next.

Y-Fi student artists strategize with members of the community on who to call over next.

Firm Handshake

This past week was the start of the new quarter. Nick had warned me that some of the kids might not be coming back since clubs change. When all the kids came in one after another, and we added three new students, I was elated. It felt like “the gang was all there” and it was a wonderful way to come back from spring break. We reviewed what happened at éclat, the last event including the successes, the barriers, and what we would do to improve.

There are a number of opportunities coming our way which I’ll share (hopefully) very soon. The amount of exposure the students receive only improve their ability to approach people and build each person’s confidence, which, I’m always surprised to hear because they seem so comfortable in their skin amongst their peers. When they’re put on the spot, it’s a different story.

La’Shanay, our intrepid EMU assistant, led the students in an introduction exercise. She instructed each student to state his/her/their name, age, grade, something they enjoyed doing in spare time, and what he/she/they contributed to Y-Fi. I thought it was a very thoughtful list and it went well for the most part. It’s something we will continue to practice. It will inform us of their social strengths and where each student may need some practice.

Y-Fi sharpens their introduction delivery and firms up handshakes.

Y-Fi sharpens their introduction delivery and firms up handshakes.

Look out for our next event in the parking lot of Ypsilanti Community High School on Thursday, April 25th. It will be a nostalgic-good time!